Fighting is a way of life for Weber Rexall, literally and figuratively. Literally, Weber earns money as a boxer in an underground fight club, often through fights the outcome of which are fixed in advance.
Figuratively speaking, as a resident of New Eden Weber fights like everyone else just to stay alive in a dystopian future that has seen the government and military fall, leaving no central power structure to serve the needs of the populace.
What sounded like a good idea to the rebels and revolutionaries initially, returning the power to the people, quickly turned into a disaster once people realized that for better or worse some form of centralized power was required in order for society to function. Without it, life in what was supposed to be New Eden quickly descended into a new kind of hell with people living a hand-to-mouth existence in an every man for himself shadow of society.
Poverty and anarchy, not prosperity and utopia, are the realities of New Eden. Beyond poverty and anarchy there is one other fixture that has emerged in New Eden: widespread addiction. Not to drugs, but to data.
Initially introduced in the military pre-government collapse, “The Wire” is a new way of learning and delivering information. Soldiers were implanted with a data port and, Matrix-esque, plugged directly into a data feed to be given their mission instructions. These first data port implants were strictly for distribution of information, and as such were controlled by governors to restrict how much information could be downloaded, and how fast.
Soon, however, the technology became available commercially and, as often happens, modifications and outright hacks occurred. Governors were broken, feeds were unlimited, and before you knew it feeling the rush of data was the new addiction in New Eden:
The experience started as a tingle near the port where the wire connected to my arm. It started like something crawling under your skin but quickly turned to a burn that rushed across the entire body. For a few minutes it was uncomfortable. You wanted to pull off your skin. But, if you could wait – if you could push through the hurt – your body would settle into the rush of data that was assaulting every last nerve. You would calm. You couldn’t hear anything. You couldn’t think anything. You just were.
As with any substance people are addicted to, the control of data has become valuable in New Eden. People pay to spend time in seedy “hothouses” where they can plug into raw data feeds, and important data is smuggled via human mules, the information implanted directly into the courier’s head. Acting as a data mule is a dangerous endeavor, and as such escorts are used to ensure couriers get from point A to point B safely. Escorts earn a fair amount of money for relatively quick work, so in addition to fighting Weber earns money working as an escort.
When one of the Weber’s escort assignments goes horribly wrong he inadvertently discovers there’s a new revolution brewing, this one against the powerful RomaCorp which has stepped in to fill the power void left when the government collapsed. What began as an honorable attempt to help people meet their daily needs – be it for food, clothes, or even utilities – quickly turned into a stranglehold on the citizens of New Eden, and it’s a grip a group of new revolutionaries think it’s high time to break free of.
Things are just different enough in author Jarrett Rush’s New Eden to be foreign, but not so outlandish as to seem unreal. After all, it wasn’t too terribly long ago people would have looked at you like you were insane had you tried to explain something like the internet or smartphones to them. Is it really too big a leap to consider we might one day, perhaps not too far away, be able to plug directly into data? Chasing Filthy Lucre is a fast-paced, engaging look at an all too realistic possible future in which the rule of law has been replaced by the rule of the urban jungle. A little dystopian, a little cyberpunk, a little noir, Chasing Filthy Lucre is entirely thrilling.
Billed as the first in a planned series, I admit I’m hooked and can’t wait to plug-in to the wire – ok, my Kindle – for another dose of New Eden adventure.
Also be sure to check out Jarrett’s guest blog, “I’m not the book I wrote.”